POTTSTOWN PA – New immunization regulations take effect next week (Monday, Aug. 1, 2011) that will require all students in the Spring-Ford Area School District, and all other districts statewide, to receive between one and four doses of vaccine against eight different diseases before they start school this fall.
Students starting seventh grade must have additional shots to protect their health, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The requirements have been known for some time, and were reinforced by the district among parents who this year registered their children to begin kindergarten.
The state now demands that all students attending any grade during the 2011-2012 year receive:
- 4 doses each of tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, including one each administered by age 4 or older
- 3 doses each of polio and Hepatitis B vaccines;
- 2 doses each of measles, mumps, and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines (or in the case of chickenpox, proof that the child has already had a history of the disease); and
- 1 dose of rubella (German measles) vaccine.
Grade 7 students also must have:
- 1 additional dose of “Tdap” vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis, if five years have elapsed since their last tetanus immunization; and
- 1 dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
State health department officials say they prefer all parents ensure their children are adequately protected, but the new regulations do make allowances for those who object to immunization for medical reasons and religious beliefs. However, students who are not fully immunized could be removed from school during an outbreak of a disease, the department notes.
Students who have limited health insurance coverage, or none at all, may be eligible to participate in a “Vaccines for Children” (VFC) program. It provides free vaccines to eligible children from birth through age 18 who meet certain criteria. Parents in need should contact their family physician or a local health department office for information on obtaining free or low-cost vaccines.
State Health Secretary Dr. Eli Avila claims vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective tools in preventing illness. They “not only prevent disease in people who receive them, but also protect those who come in contact with unvaccinated individuals, including those who are too young or who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons,” he said in a June (2011) press release.
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